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Germany seeks Petersberg climate boost

July 15, 2012 at 6:52 AM   |   Comments

BERLIN, July 16 (UPI) -- Germany says it's aiming to deliver a kick-start to international climate change negotiations at Monday's third Petersberg Climate Dialogue.

The two-day conference in Berlin is co-hosted by German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier, who says the environment ministers and high-ranking representatives from 30 countries attending the meeting are intent on solving the political issues hampering progress on a new binding agreement.

"The international climate process needs new momentum," Altmaier said a statement issued by the German Environment Ministry. "We will take practical examples from different countries and use them to discuss how concrete initiatives and alliances can advance international climate protection on all levels."

Altmaier said Germany and co-host Qatar are hoping the discussions provide areas of agreement in the run-up to November's U.N. climate conference in Doha as the international community seeks to replace the expiring Kyoto climate change protocol.

The meeting comes seven months after the U.N. climate conference in Durban, South Africa, where developing nations such as China and Brazil agreed for the first time to accept future binding greenhouse gas emissions.

The Durban conference forged a consensus that a new deal will be negotiated by 2015 and implemented by 2020 -- when existing voluntary targets end -- with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming within 2 degrees Celsius of 1990 levels.

U.N. calculations indicate industrialized countries must reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80-95 percent by 2050 compared to 1990 levels to accomplish that goal -- the Kyoto Protocol covers 5 percent of the necessary reductions.

Critics decried the lack of direction on what happens during the current decade under the Durban deal, resulting in an "ambition gap."

"I am hoping the (Petersberg) meeting will inject new impetus into the upcoming U.N. climate conference in Doha," Altmaier said.

To tackle the challenges of global climate change, the international community needs "a whole array of initiatives, combined with cooperation among countries who want to make progress together," the German environment minister added.

Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister Abdulla bin Hamad Al-Attiyah is co hosting the event with German Chancellor Angela Merkel scheduled to give the keynote speech Monday.

The Petersberg Climate Dialogue has been held twice before as a personal initiative of Merkel, meeting in the middle of the year to prepare for the following U.N. climate conference toward the end of the year.

German officials said the top item on the agenda is the ambition gap between the 2-degree target and what actually needs to be done to help meet it in the next decade. A small working is trying to persuade nations to step up their voluntary emission reductions before 2020, the British weekly New Scientist reported.

Also on the agenda will be discussions on using the transition to a low carbon economy as a strategy for modernization and growth.

EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard said she was also was set to attend the Berlin conference, and would hold bilateral talks with ministers from various countries.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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